Employee retention strategies to retain top talent

With today’s highly competitive recruitment market, creating a comprehensive employee retention strategy is becoming more important to companies in all sectors.

An employee retention strategy will help your company to reduce employee turnover, ensure an engaged workforce and attract and retain top talent. A clear strategy will consist of programmes and policies that improve employee experience at all levels of the organisation.

In this blog I’ll give you some tips on strategies for retaining top talent, improving job satisfaction across your organisation and improving employee engagement.

What is employee retention?

The definition of employee retention refers to your organisation’s ability to keep (retain) current employees. Employee retention is closely linked with employee experience. Many studies have shown that a positive employee experience is associated with improved employee retention.

Why is employee retention important?

The UK is suffering from a talent shortage across many industries right now. Talent retention along with recruitment is becoming harder for many companies as employees demand more from their employers and are more willing to switch roles and companies if their needs are not met.

In today’s market, having a clear strategy and focus on retaining employees as well as hiring new recruits should be the top of all companies’ agendas. Whilst you can’t stop other companies ‘poaching’ key employees with the promise of improved packages, having a well thought out employee retention strategy should stop some of your team members actively looking to leave on their own.

Employee turnover can be costly for your business as it may affect turnover and profit. Research has shown that lower employee engagement and productivity can occur during the period leading up to someone leaving and this can also affect other employees around them. Add that to the costs of hiring replacements, losing people can be expensive for businesses.

Although recent research shows that people are currently less likely to resign amid looming recession fears.

Benefits of employee retention strategies to retain top talent

There are a substantial number of benefits to implementing a successful employee retention strategy in your business. These benefits include:

  • Lower employee turnover
  • Greater job satisfaction for employees
  • Improved employee experience
  • Improved work environment
  • Clearer focus on employee wellbeing
  • Cost savings on recruitment
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased revenue
  • Potential for differentiation
  • Less disruption to the business
  • Continuity of skills and knowledge
  • Better customer experience

Creating an employee retention strategy

Business owners that are serious about retaining employees establish programmes and policies that create a positive employee experience and aim at reducing employee turnover.

Employee retention requires multiple strategies and tactics to improve retention rates. Here are some of the areas where action will boost employee job satisfaction and will help your ability retain top talent.

1. Onboarding process

First impressions count. A good employee experience in the first few weeks will have a huge impact on their perception of the company. Having a well-planned and comprehensive onboarding process is vital. Create onboarding checklists that cover not only the role and expectations, but also provide information about the rest of the company, company culture, training and support.

2. Employee compensation and incentivisation

Whilst a competitive salary is essential to attract the right talent, consider your wider employee package. Rewards and flexible benefits including additional holidays, healthcare, parental leave, and flexible working options can all help you to retain people.

Areas such as employee incentivisation are now more critical to retaining key employees. Employee incentives schemes such as EMI share options are ideal if you want to offer key employees (such as your management team) a longer term incentive to stay with the company.

3. Training and development opportunities

It is important to identify areas for professional learning and development for each of your employees. This may be training of new skills for potential future roles or upskilling employees. Investing in your team development and the ability to bespoke this to individuals will help to retain people in the business.

4. Mentorship

As well as more formal training and development programmes, pairing an employee with a mentor within the company can improve employee satisfaction. Mentors can offer support and guidance day-to-day to individuals, help new recruits to learn from experienced employees and mentees can also offer a fresh viewpoint to their mentors. Mentorship programmes often lead to both parties benefiting from the mentor/mentee relationship.

5. Career paths for progression

For many individuals, providing professional and career developmental opportunities and giving people additional responsibility can have a significant impact on their willingness to stay with a company. Promoting internally provides a clear path to improved compensation and responsibility, but it also helps employees feel valued.

Studies show that Millennials and GenZers crave career and professional development, with several studies suggesting that a considerable proportion of them would leave a company that doesn’t offer personal career and development opportunities.

6. Wellness

Wellness is now critically important to employee retention and improved employee experience. Helping your employees to stay mentally, physically, emotionally and financially fit will have a positive impact on your business as well as the individual.

Companies now offer stress management, counselling, support hotlines, fitness classes, money management and coaching to improve employee wellbeing.

7. Communication

Good internal communication is often an under-rated element of employee retention. This has become more pertinent as companies have shifted to remote or hybrid working. Ensuring you communicate with employees regularly is only one element of this. Giving employees a voice where they feel comfortable and able to talk about their ideas, concerns or questions at any time is important. There are a number of excellent engagement software packages available that allow staff to leave feedback anonymously and to engage general employee feeling. These packages will give an employer a clearer view via pulse surveys of where improvements need to be made.

8. Performance feedback

The annual assessment/review is now being replaced with more frequent and continuous feedback systems in many companies. Having more regular reviews allows employees to talk about their short and long-term goals and allows you to openly talk about progress and build realistic plans for their future.

9. Reward and recognition

Having a system where employees across the company can shine a light on others achievements and celebrate them is more important now more than ever.

It may be the successful conclusion to a project, hitting a production target, a work anniversary, someone living your company values or going above and beyond. Milestones both big and small should be recognised and celebrated, with the ability for employees to nominate one another for recognition.

This doesn’t necessarily relate to financial reward, a simple thank you virtually or in person, a quick drink at the pub, lunch provided, a shopping voucher or some additional time off can all go a long way to recognising individual or team achievements.

10. Flexible work environment

Since the pandemic, many companies now better understand the benefits of flexible or hybrid working arrangements for their teams. Many employees no longer want to be in the office 5 days a week.

People welcome some flexibility in either their working hours or ability to remote work. Maybe you can offer a 4-day week, flexitime, home working or reduced working hours to retain people in the long-term?

recent survey highlighted that nearly eight in ten workers (79%) identify a strong hybrid working approach as an either or extremely important factor when choosing an employer. In today’s widespread war for talent, businesses have an opportunity to more clearly define what hybrid means as a competitive advantage.

Remote work and other flexible options also give your company a wider talent pool with the ability to recruit people that are not geographically close to your business or those that are unable to work traditional office hours due to external commitments.

11.  Culture, diversity and inclusion

When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, because research shows that this matters to employees. For companies fighting to retain employees, internal accountability for diversity and inclusion is critical. According to McKinsey, diversity is good for a company’s bottom line. The research showed that companies with good ethnic and cultural diversity outperform by 36% in profitability and it’s the people in the business that help to drive that profitability.

How employee experience links to employee retention

Research has clearly shown a direct correlation and link between employee retention and employee experience. If employee experience doesn’t match an employee’s expectations, you will find good people leave your company.

There are many drivers of employee experience including:

  • Lower employee turnover
  • Greater job satisfaction for employees
  • Improved employee experience
  • Improved work environment
  • Clearer focus on employee wellbeing
  • Cost savings on recruitment
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased revenue
  • Potential for differentiation
  • Less disruption to the business
  • Continuity of skills and knowledge
  • Better customer experience

Achieving high employee retention rates closely links to creating the right company culture and employee experience across the whole company.

Using data to improve employee retention

Many companies have comprehensive employee data and there are now comprehensive HR software programmes that can help look at employee retention analytics and identify patterns in resignations. Often internal processes such as assessments, salary reviews or bonus payments can spark people leaving, so understanding these by using HR data can help to improve your retention strategy.

Preparing for employee turnover

It is impossible for a company to have zero employee turnover and a percentage of turnover is healthy to ensure an employer has new employees with innovative ideas and different experience to bring to the table.

Being prepared for employee turnover is crucial. Losing a key employee can harm a business so having clear succession plans or contingency plans for that eventuality will be a benefit. Identify hard to recruit roles or key roles and have a clear plan around them. Putting in place things like share schemes can help retain these key staff.

Working continually on your employer brand (how you are perceived in the job market as an employer) will help when the time comes to have to recruit. Being visible and an ’employer of choice’ can help when you do lose employees and need to replace them.


Attracting and retaining the right candidates is critical in today’s competitive market, with many sectors suffering from skills and people shortages.

Retaining top talent can make an enormous difference to your company culture, bottom line and your personal stress levels!

People leave jobs for all sorts of reasons but recognising why employees are leaving your company and minimising employee loss is down to a wide combination of tactics and strategies.

Business leaders need to understand what their employees want or need in order to increase employee retention. Salary is only part of the equation when it comes to employee retention. flexible benefits, culture, work environment, wellbeing, progression, learning and development, reward & recognition all lead to having a comprehensive employee retention strategy.

Further reading

What do Gen Z and Millennials expect in the workplace

Employment contracts, induction & training

Recruitment for your business in this competitive market